Mantua Township to hold county-based cleanup event

Grants available to participants linked with local nonprofits.

Calling all Mantua Township residents. Later this month, there’s an opportunity to do good for the community while doing well for your nonprofit. 

The township is holding its annual cleanup event on Saturday, April 24, between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at multiple locations. Since this year it is planned as a county event, there’s a financial incentive for residents otherwise involved in community events to participate. 

According to Deputy Township Clerk Pam LeVine, it’s all about a state program called Clean Communities. It’s a grant-driven enterprise, where the state provides the township a nominal amount of money, which is spun into mini grants anywhere from $250 to $500. 

This year, LeVine said, groups which meet the following requirements will receive the full $500: All attending members in a group have to be affiliated with a non profit organization, which is based in  Gloucester County, and each group must contain a minimum of 10 participants. 

A decision to hold events of this size, coming toward the end of a year-long pandemic, wasn’t as easy as one might think. A primary concern was how to balance the need for the public to have an opportunity to enjoy fresh air, against concerns of a rise in COVID cases in the region.  

“It was a little bit of both, to be honest. A little hesitation since we’re not out of the woods yet, but made easier because it’s been shown how being outside is a little safer,” LeVine noted.

Of course, maximum safety among maximum coverage has been mapped out well beforehand. LeVine stated that all participants will be required to wear masks, and will be completely socially distanced. No more than one group will be stationed in one particular area. 

“This is for the entire township, not just the park. People could be stationed along a road, on a street, or in a community area in desperate need of a clean-up,” she added. 

On the morning of the event, each group will be required to check in at Chestnut Branch Park, and following a small opening ceremony, each group will be given their instructions, and will be assigned a specific area. No need to bring anything from home, as the township will supply all the gloves, trash bags, vests, lights on vehicles, trash pickers and other necessary items. 

You’re also expected to be on your best behavior, as LeVine and Gloucester County Improvement Authority chief Jeff Hamilton will be cruising around to make sure everyone’s following the rules and attending to their jobs.

While the township welcomes all interested, due to COVID, there could be limits to the number of groups and overall participants. LeVine revealed that, in Mantua’s last county-level clean up in 2018, approximately 50 groups showed up. 

“This year, I don’t think we’re gonna get so many. I think we can accommodate each group to have its own area. If we feel we get too many we’ll pull the plug,” she admitted. 

Undertakings of this nature will often bring about more good will and good intentions than solid attendance, but LeVine thinks a community clean up will leave a positive impact on Mantua’s children.

“It’s a tough beat. A lot of people say they’re going to commit but they don’t. It’s a good way to get kids moving again, and for them to learn how to give back to the community,” she mused. 

“And you’re outside. Just be outside. I want these kids to be outside, it’s time. I think they need it.”

To let the township know you’re interested in helping, contact: LeVine at (856) 468-1500 ext. 113, or via email at: plevine@mantuatownship.com, no later than April 14. 

To find out more about how Clean Communities impacts your town, visit: https://www.njclean.org/nj-clean-communities/overview.